Every month, FoodPrints students garden, cook, and eat nutritious foods together, and participate in hands-on lessons that help them master science, math, english/language arts, and health standards.
Two months into the new school year, we have:
The Anne Beers Elementary community in Ward 7 is cooking with fresh vegetables this fall with a new farm share program offering weekly bags of fresh produce. The first share delivered last week included cauliflower, kale, peppers, eggplant, tomato, potato, onion, rosemary, and sage.
The farm share is open to the school community and neighbors. Each Thursday afternoon, the bags of produce are available for pick up in the school courtyard. Many parents and staff members are participating as well as a few neighbors who live near the school.
The reaction was so positive that all of the shares sold before the first pick-up and again all shares sold in advance of the second week.
“The Farm Share program is awesome for our community," says Ariana Ford, an Anne Beers parent who is running the farm share along with Shana Donahue, the Anne Beers FoodPrints Lead Teacher. "I love it and am I so fortunate to be a part of it! Everyone from parents to staff to community members are so excited and thankful for this. It feel great to be a part of the movement in feeding our community nutritious food! I love what we're doing to heal, uplift and strengthen our community through food!"
Farm share customers remarked:
"I can't wait for my bag next week!"
"The cauliflower was so good it tasted like butter!"
"Thank you for giving your heart and energy to Anne Beers!"
The farm share is supported by sweetgreen, the DC-based fast-casual salad restaurant. The project provides fresh vegetables from a Rainbow Hill Farm for 10 weeks in the fall and 10 weeks in the spring; sweetgreen funding makes it possible to subsidize the weekly shares of organic, local produce.
FoodPrints programming is also starting this fall at Anne Beers. Students will begin participating in regular FoodPrints classes and growing more produce in their already active school garden. Anne Beers Principal Gwendolyn Payton is excited about the program. “The hands-on FoodPrints experiences will help our school community gain familiarity with fresh produce and the natural world -- and bring real-world learning to help students master science and health standards.” says Principal Payton.
Because of FoodPrints, more than 2,600 students in DC Public Schools had opportunities throughout the school year to garden; chop, mix, and prepare nutritious recipes; and learn academic content through these hands-on experiences.
In FoodPrints classes, students experience real-world learning:
We are grateful for the students, teachers, and administrators who partner with us, and all our generous funders that make this program possible. See you in the fall!
A primary aim of FoodPrints is for students and families who participate to know more about and prefer a wider array of fresh fruits and vegetables. Through the FoodPrints program, communities at our partner schools gain hands-on experience with fresh, seasonal produce in their edible school gardens and teaching kitchens as they plant, harvest, cook and eat nutritious, cost-effective, produce-based recipes together.
In order to increase exposure to fresh produce -- and the variety of tasty recipes that use seasonal produce -- at FoodPrints schools, our team provides periodic “taste tests” at our partner schools. These are opportunities for students to try a variety of simple seasonal FoodPrints recipes: kale salad, applesauce, purple carrots and hummus, beet hummus, butternut squash soup, spring radish salad, and more.
Usually we set up a table in the lunchroom or near gathering places at school drop off or pick up, display the ingredients, make copies of the recipe available, and have “test” portions in small cups or on small plates for students to take and try.
We ask the students to think about their reactions to the new foods. We often ask students to mark on poster paper with tallies or stickers one of three responses: Tried it, Liked it, or Loved it. These produce-based recipes are tasty, and, when we introduce them to students, they like often “like it” or “love it,” even if they’ve never eaten a purple carrot or beet hummus or butternut squash soup before!
We’d like to thank the Chef Ann Foundation, especially, for funding produce purchases for both FoodPrints classes and taste tests at four of our partner schools -- Kimball, Ludlow-Taylor, Tyler, and Simon -- in the 2016-17 school year.
Kimball Elementary School, under the direction of Principal Johann Lee, is focused on providing comprehensive and integrated Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) experiences for its students.
FoodPrints classes are one of the main vehicles for delivering STEAM programming for the younger children at the school. All PK3 through 3rd grade students at Kimball this school year have participated in FoodPrints classes -- which include gardening and cooking, along with earth science, math, and environmental literacy content instruction. The PK3 and PK4 students have participated twice-monthly and kindergarten through 3rd grade once a month.
Rosa Ramirez-Lopez, the FoodPrints Lead Teacher at Kimball, is part of the school’s STEAM Team and helps plan the STEAM programming. “Sitting on the STEAM Team has allowed me to integrate FoodPrints with the STEAM efforts at the school -- and it’s allowed us to broaden the impact of FoodPrints as a model for providing science and math content,” says Ms. Lopez.
learning about worms in FoodPrints class
Principal Lee speaks to the importance of FoodPrints past the STEAM connections in the school’s effort to educate the whole child. “Many of our families live in a food desert, and FoodPrints connects them in a sincere way to fresh, nutritious foods. The program helps our students access what other parts of the city already have access to.”
FoodPrints was also a key part of the school’s recent World Cultures Day. As the students took a “trip around the world,” they visited 6 different countries -- by rotating to tables with information about each country and a native, nutritious dish from that country, as prepared by Ms. Lopez and Kimball’s FoodCorps service member, Kaamillah Mitchell. The students tried Fresh Tomato Salsa from Mexico, Orange Turkey Tofu Meatballs from China, Bom Bom Beans from South Africa and other recipes that used mostly fresh, local produce.
Student harvests lettuce for class with FoodCorps service member Kaamilah
Mr. Lee notes the results he sees of the younger students’ participation in FoodPrints. The PK3 and PK4 students who’ve had FoodPrints classes all year are eager and excited to eat beets and kale and other produce from the garden. Meanwhile, older students who have not participated in FoodPrints are wary of the beets and kale and not as willing to try them.
“FoodPrints integrates seamlessly into our school and helps us meets the goals of our STEAM programming. And kids enjoy it!” says Mr. Lee.
Washington’s Green Grocer is generously providing transport and storage services that allow us to get fresh produce from the farmers market to our partner schools each week. They've made it possible for more than 3,000 DC Public School children to have beautiful, local vegetables to supplement the produce they harvest from their school gardens to cook during FoodPrints classes.
Connecting FoodPrints with School Cafeterias to Offer A Wider Variety of Fresh Recipes Familiar to Students
DC Public Schools and FRESHFARM are partnering to offer, nutritious, seasonal recipes in school lunches. These are some of the same recipes students are preparing in their monthly FoodPrints classes.
In February, the Ludlow-Taylor and School Within School school cafeterias began serving two FoodPrints recipes every Wednesday.
In February and March, the FoodPrints entrees included Sweet Potato Quesadillas & Tuscan Kale Salad; Bean and Veggie Chili & Sauteed Kale with Lemon and Garlic; and Shepherd's Pie & Collards with Browned Onions.
After spring break, a new menu began that will run through the end of the school year. The spring recipes are Fried Rice & Spinach Salad; Crunchy Rosemary Lemon Chickpeas & Warm Potato Salad; Prosperity Peas with Collard Greens & French Carrot Salad.
We hear praise from students and staff at the schools for the taste and variety of the FoodPrints meals. On a recent FoodPrints Day, a kindergartener at Ludlow-Taylor gave her friend across the table a “thumbs up” and a smile for the Crunchy Rosemary Lemon Chickpeas.
"We would gladly buy lunch at school every day if FoodPrints recipes were always on the menu," says Genevieve Sapir, mother of two at School Within School.
“It’s something tangible I can ask my child about his day. ‘Did you have chili for lunch?’ And he often asks me ‘Can we make this at home?’ about the FoodPrints recipes,” says Rikki Schmidle, parent at Ludlow-Taylor. The connection between FoodPrints and lunch has been one of the biggest wins this school year. It is such a good way to introduce nutritious foods starting young in a challenging urban environment.”
Rob Jaber, Food Service Director for DCPS and staunch supporter of the FoodPrints program and farm-to-school initiatives, is immersed in the connections made between the classroom and in the cafeteria. “This partnership captures the national trend of scratch cooking in school cafeterias: recipes made from scratch, on-site, that are fresher, appealing, and nutritious. All the partners have been key to the success of this initiative, and we’re excited about expansion possibilities next year and beyond in the future,” Jaber says.
FRESHFARM and DCPS Food and Nutrition Services are working alongside SodexoMagic, the school meals vendor, to ensure the recipes are prepared accurately and consistently, to be tasty and as close as possible to what the students are preparing in their FoodPrints classes.
At both schools, large photographs of students working in their school gardens and preparing the nutritious foods in teaching kitchens hang in the lunchrooms -- making further connections between school meals and FoodPrints
Behind this project is the theory that FoodPrints lessons -- academically enriching opportunities in which students to gain familiarity and comfort with these fresh, seasonal recipes and hands-on food and nutrition education -- combined with changes to the school cafeteria menu and environment will result in increased participation in the school meals program, more nutritious fresh options, and less waste. To meet these goals, DC Public Schools Division of Food and Nutrition Services and FRESHFARM have been building build greater connections between school gardens, the school meals program, and what is prepared in FoodPrints kitchen classrooms.
On a sunny spring Saturday morning in late April, the Ludlow-Taylor community came together to plant 20 strawberry plants and 60 asparagus plants, install 80 feet of row hoops to protect the plants, and spread 25 bags of mulch. About 50 people in all participated: 20 adults and even more students.
This was a community effort, with guidance from Ludlow-Taylor’s FoodPrints Lead Teacher Martine Hippolyte and FoodCorps member, Alex Olson, along with Master Gardener and longtime FoodPrints volunteer, Barbara Percival.
Rikki Schmidle was at the planting day with her Kindergartener and rising PK-3 student and was thrilled how families were engaged in planting as part of the FoodPrints program. “The day was wonderful,” she said. “Each member of the family had a job they could do, and we had a chance to get to know other families.”
All of the plants and supplies were provided with a grant from the Capitol Hill Community Foundation, which has generously supported FoodPrints over many years.
The new plants are perennials (they will grow year after year). Unlike other FoodPrints gardens, it’s possible to dedicate space to perennials in the new Ludlow-Taylor edible garden because of its size -- about 1000 square feet of planting area.
Digging in the dirt. Finding worms. What fun for young children! But it’s also educational, as a springtime FoodPrints lesson demonstrates.
In this lesson, students learned about the world around them and the value of living things in the garden. They learned what composting is,why it’s important and the connection between worms and reducing food waste.
FoodPrints Lead Teacher, Jill Peralta, began the lesson at Tyler Elementary with a kindergarten class by reading Yucky Worms by Vivian French. In the book, a boy starts out thinking worms are “yucky” but with explanations from his grandmother about their form and functions, he ends up thinking of worms as his friends.
As with most FoodPrints sessions, students rotated through four stations -- which allow all students to experience many types of hands-on learning. In this particular lesson on worms and composting, students:
At the cooking station, students were engaged in chopping sweet potatoes and strawberries. Ms. Peralta shows them how to chop safely and in the right size for the recipe. One boy, after his turn with the garlic twister, exclaimed “It smells so good and spicy!”
Laura Chapa -- Kindergarten teacher in the Bilingual Immersion program at Tyler and also a member of the city’s Environmental Literacy Leadership Cadre -- says she sees students “become more respectful of worms and other living things” when they engage in lessons like this one. She sees value in the structure of the FoodPrints hands-on activities. “I love the creativity, and the children love the activities!” she says.
At the end of the lesson, Ms. Peralta discussed composting with the students. “It’s a way to reduce the amount of trash that goes in landfills and make rich soil that can feed gardens,” she explains. Then she and the students “feed the worms” by putting the leftover radish greens in the worm bin.
This lesson aligns with the Environmental Literacy Framework from the DC Office of State Superintendent of Schools (OSSE) and the Next Generation Science Standard Disciplinary Core Idea of Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems.
Before they got up from the carpet to go to the tables to eat, classroom teacher Laura Chapa, asks the class, “Now, when you find worms are you going to say ewww or yuck?” “No!” says a chorus of voices. One child volunteered, “I have friends in the garden … under the soil.”
The lesson ends with the children eating the spring salad and roasted sweet potatoes together. Many asked for seconds!
What's happening in our school gardens and teaching kitchens, what our students are learning, and our connections with the community